Monthly Archives: November 2012

Hysterectomy: Leslie’s Story Part Two–The Surgery

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When blog reader Leslie Lockwood told me she was scheduled for a hysterectomy, I asked her to record her experience for Friend for the Ride.  She’s presenting her story in three parts.  This post recounts the first hours and the first two weeks following the surgery. Thanks, Leslie!

I awoke from my surgery to the best news ever-the doctors had been able to do my entire surgery  laparoscopically and  had left the colon alone because there was no endometrial involvement there.  What a blessing!  I immediately knew my recovery would be much, much easier than I had anticipated.

I stayed in the hospital overnight, but most of us know that is pretty pointless because it is impossible to get any rest in a hospital at all.  (When I had my babies, I was one of those moms who actually sent them-I know, shocking-to the nursery so I could get some rest and even then I didn’t sleep.)

Anyhow, I was hooked to an IV, had a pulse thingy taped to my finger, had the things on my legs to keep blood flow and prevent blood clots, and had oxygen in my nose.  Basically, I could barely move because I was so connected, it made it impossible to do anything but lie still. Add to that the fact that people are constantly coming in to check your vitals, give you pain meds, and take your blood (that guy showed up at 4:00 am).

I went home about 24 hours after the surgery.  I was amazed at how good I felt, sore, but good.  I settled into my couch with my water bottle, pain meds, books/magazines, and the remote control.  Family, friends, and neighbors had signed up to bring meals (many of them at my pre-hysterectomy party), so we were all set.

I had been given advice by more people than I can count, to rest, to take it easy, and to accept any offer of help that came my way.  So although that really is hard to do, I listened to my doctor, my friends and my body and did pretty much nothing for two weeks.  It felt almost decadent to be lounging on my couch, watching Netflix, enjoying meals from friends*, playing with Pinterest and Facebook on my Ipad, and even napping while a friend tidied up my home and organized my Tupperware cupboard, but I did it.

Yesterday was my two week check up, and I think my “vacation on the couch” has paid off.  I feel great, my wounds have healed, and I am now allowed to drive again and resume most of my normal activities**.

My next check up is in four weeks and at that point, we will discuss things like how I am doing being on Estrogen (I am on a patch right now because I now have no ovaries) and if my endometrial pain has gone away (I still have sporadic pain in my left side but it could be phantom pain).

I can say now that I am feeling really good, almost back to normal.  I am glad to be on the other side of this surgery.  So far I have not grieved my uterus and ovaries at all.

I definitely won’t be missing the periods or the spotting I had for weeks at a time.  I am excited to plan my 25th anniversary beach vacation without having to check a calendar and cross my fingers and hope and pray that I won’t be bleeding at that time.  I truly feel a sense of freedom and excitement and I look to my post-hysterectomy future!

*My doctor had advised me not to eat too much.  It took me about a week to get my appetite back so I listened to him and just made sure I had a little food with my meds and took a few bites each night of the lovely dinners we received.  Added note for those of you who go through this: I took two Colace every day for about 6 days and drank lots of water.

**No lifting, baths, hot tub, or sex. (I still have my cervix, but it was stitched up and needs to heal.)

Photo Above:  Leslie, her husband, and two girls grinning for the camera. Leslie thinks this picture was taken at the Balboa Peninsula in California. She loved going to the arcade there as a kid because you take a ferry from Balboa Island.

Photo Below:  Leslie, her husband, and her youngest daughter.  Leslie’s oldest daughter is now away at college.

Leslie Lockwood has been married for twenty-four years and is the mother of two teenage daughters. She’s a southern California girl who’s been in Oregon for the past eighteen years.  Leslie teaches music to preschoolers. She loves her book club, girls’ night out, and trips to the beach.

Hysterectomy: Leslie’s Story Part One– Before the Surgery

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When blog reader Leslie Lockwood told me she was scheduled for a hysterectomy, I asked her to record her experience for Friend for the Ride.  She’s presenting her story in three parts.  This post recounts the symptoms and medical advice that led to the surgery.  Thanks, Leslie!

As I look ahead to a few days from now, I’m really not sure how I feel.  You see, I am about to part with my uterus.  I guess I’m ok with that.  No more bleeding or spotting 15 days a month….  No more pain (endometriosis)…

Until recently I thought I would never have a hysterectomy.  They were for people of my mom’s generation, or people with health issues.  Not me, I was pretty sure I’d be hanging on to it forever.  But here I am today, about to have surgery soon, and  I am pretty sure that  I am in denial about this whole experience.

Here what lead me to make the decision:  Until the last few years, I was a pretty healthy person, with rarely even a cramp each month.  Then one day I had this pain that I thought surely must be appendicitis; it turned out to be a ruptured ovarian cyst (talk to anyone who has had one, the most excruciating pain ever).  I had it happen twice before the doctor scheduled a laparoscopic procedure and took out my ovary.

When they took my ovary, they discovered that I had lots and lots of endometriosis.  Interestingly, right before I had my ovary removed, I had this pain in my side and shooting down my leg– this has continued every month for 1-2 weeks.  I often have bleeding or spotting accompanying this.  But I did not want a hysterectomy, so I decided to try and deal with it.

When it wasn’t getting any better ,they put me on The Pill.  I continued to have bad pain and yet another ruptured ovarian cyst (on my remaining ovary).  I have figured out that constant pain is exhausting!  I was tired all. the. time.  (Me, the diagnosed insomniac since age 10, has to take a nap each and every day.)  So after my last trip to the ER for the ruptured cyst, I went to my doctor.  He basically said to me, “It’s time.”

Now that the time has come, I have tons of questions:  *Will they take my ovary?  *Will they put me on estrogen?  What will I feel like?  *What will the recovery be like?  Is this really going to happen?  So much is unanswered at this point.

And still, I wonder if this is really what I should do?  I have actually felt ok in the last month and a half since that cyst ruptured. So now what do I do? Do I discount the 2.5 years of pain, bleeding, etc. because the last month has been ok?  Or is it sort of like when you can’t stand your hair, schedule an appointment, and then get tons of compliments (before you even have your hair cut)?

I’m not sure.  Time will tell.

I am hoping and praying that I made the right decision.

*This part really is an uncertainty because the doctor will not know what he has to do until he get in there with the scope and sees how much damage the endometriosis has done.

Photo Above:  Leslie as a baby!

Photo below:  Our guest blogger now.

Leslie Lockwood has been married for twenty-four years and is the mother of two teenage daughters. She’s a southern California girl who’s been in Oregon for the past eighteen years.  Leslie teaches music to preschoolers. She loves her book club, girls’ night out, and trips to the beach.

Guest Post: To My Mom, Who Taught Me Not to Wait (and a Novel Giveaway)

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A guest post by writer Janet Fox:

I want to write this post about my mom.

She died young. Correction – she died at an age that I now consider too young to die, since she was only fifteen years older than I am now when she died. And frankly, fifteen years is going to go by like – click – that.

She didn’t have the chance to be the grandmother I longed for her to be for my son. She didn’t have the chance to see my first (or second…) novel published. She died suddenly and without warning, and as in all things in my life, she taught me something very important.

She taught me not to wait.

Among her papers as I was sorting them – because my father couldn’t – I found a pile of unpublished children’s stories. They were sweet, old-fashioned, lyrical. I read them and thought, huh. These are wonderful. What if I could do that. What if I could write something like that. What if…

I’ve always been a cautious person. Wait and see. Take it one step at a time. Consider the plan. But when Mom died she gave me the courage to open up my creative heart and let it all pour out. There’s no question that my first novel was written for and about her (a girl loses her mother, tries to find her, and instead finds herself).

In fact, all my writing now is about reaching out to my mother, finding the girl to woman connection, letting myself grow into the woman that she would admire.

I’m burning with stories now, stories that I must get down on paper, stories that are bursting to be told, characters that are reaching for the light, and this is all because she taught me to let them out, taught me not to wait.

What if we didn’t wait? What if we never waited for the right moment, the settled-downness, the quiet? What if we didn’t wait for the nudge of death to drive us to action? What if, as women, we shifted into the fullness of our lives right from the start?

If you are a cautious person, the time is now. Don’t wait. Take my mom’s lesson to heart. Find your stories and let them pour out like honey. Give them to the page, to your daughters, to the world.

Give them to yourself.

And, to my mom, I give my sweetest thanks.

Janet Fox is the author of award-winning books for children and young adults. FAITHFUL (Speak/Penguin Young Readers 2010), set in Yellowstone National Park in 1904, is a YALSA Best Fiction for YA nominee and an Amelia Bloomer List pick, 2011. FORGIVEN (Speak 2011), set in 1906 San Francisco during the great earthquake, is a Junior Library Guild selection 2011, and a 2012 WILLA Literary Awards Finalist.

Her most recent novel, SIRENS (Speak 2012), is set in 1925 New York and is told from alternating points of view of two girls who must confront a gangster and uncover dark secrets.

Janet is a former high school English teacher and received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults in 2010 (Vermont College of Fine Arts). Janet lives in Bozeman, Montana but you can also find her at www.janetsfox.com and   http://about.me/janetfox.  She blogs at: www.kidswriterjfox.blogspot.com.

Giveaway:  For a chance to win a copy of Sirens, simply enter a comment by December 5 saying you’d like to win.  I’m giving away two copies!

Sleep: A Technique to Try

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If I toss and turn at night, Cliff sometimes says, “I can hear your brain working.”

Wow, those must be pretty good ears.

Then he adds, “Just stop thinking and go to sleep.”

STOP THINKING??

Sometimes, it’s big thinking:  This is the first time I’ve  had a recall on a mammogram.  What exactly did the nurse say again?

Sometimes, it’s little thinking:  Should I top the banana pudding with whipped cream or meringue?

Sometimes, it’s grumpy thinking: With a broken furnace and a crown to be drilled, tomorrow is not going to be great day.

Sometimes,it’s happy thinking:  Should I get the old toys down from the attic now or wait until the baby is a little older?

But NO THINKING

In the middle of the night?

Not easy.  No sir.

In the last few months, I’ve been experimenting with a form of no thinking.

I call it “calm thinking,” for want of a more creative term.

My new rule is I have to think calm, nighttime thoughts.

It seems to be working, some of the time at least.  I mostly focus on gratitude– I’m in a nice bed, pleasant covers, stars are shining in the sky, goodnight moon- that sort of thing.

Give calm thinking  a try. I’d love to know if it works for you!

PS: And it may be that calm thinking is actually working because my wide-awake menopausal hormones have calmed down a bit.

Good news for those of you in the middle of the roller coaster ride. There’s less rattle and clatter at the end.

The photo is a BIG headline from the Durham Herald to get fans thinking about the upcoming Duke and Carolina basketball season. Go Blue Devils!